Trophic resource partitioning within a shorebird community feeding on intertidal mudflat habitats

Abstract : In ecological systems, it is necessary to describe the trophic niches of species and their segregation or overlap to understand the distribution of species in the community. In oceanic systems, the community structure of top predators such as seabird communities has been well documented with many studies in several biogeographical areas. But for coastal habitats, very few investigations on the trophic structure have been carried out in avian communities. In this study, the trophic resource partitioning was investigated on eight of the most abundant species of a shorebird community on the central Atlantic coast of France. Our work comprised a comprehensive sample of birds with different ecomorphogical patterns and data on their main prey to encompass potential sources of overlap and segregation in this community. We examined the stable carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) isotopic composition of blood to investigate the trophic structure (1) on a temporal scale by comparing migration and wintering periods; (2) on a spatial scale through inter-site comparisons; and (3) on the community level within groups of phylogenetically related species. Diets appeared different in several cases between periods, between sites and between juveniles and adults for the same sites. A clear trophic partitioning was established with four functional groups of predators in winter inside the community. The Grey Plover, the Bar-tailed Godwit, the Curlew and a majority of the dunlins were worms-eater mainly feeding on Nereis diversicolor or Nephtys hombergii Two species were predominantly deposit-suspensivorous mollusc-eaters, including the Red Knot and the Black-tailed Godwit feeding mainly on Macoma balthica. The Oystercatcher fed mainly on suspensivorous molluscs like Cerastodrema edule and two species including the Redshank and some dunlins adopted opportunistic behaviours feeding on mudflat and/or in marshes.
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Pierrick Bocher, Frédéric Robin, Jessica Kojadinovic, Philippe Delaporte, Pierre Rousseau, et al.. Trophic resource partitioning within a shorebird community feeding on intertidal mudflat habitats. Journal of Sea Research, Elsevier, 2014, 92, pp.115-124. ⟨10.1016/j.seares.2014.02.011⟩. ⟨hal-01072993⟩

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